GOP Optimistic in Race for Illinois Governor

Image: GOP Optimistic in Race for Illinois Governor From left: State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner, and state Sen. Bill Brady participate in a Illinois Republican gubernatorial debate on Feb. 18.

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 06:20 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The victor in Tuesday's GOP primary for Illinois governor may be well positioned to win the November election against incumbent Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn, The New York Times reported.

While Democrats are expected to retain control of both houses of the state legislature in Springfield, prospects are that President Barack Obama's home state could have a fiscally conservative, though socially moderate, Republican governor.

After Rod Blagojevich was convicted on corruption charges and went to federal prison, Quinn completed his term and went on to win a term of his own. He's now seeking a second full term, having, he says, stabilized the wobbly state employee pension system.

The GOP field includes state Sen. Bill Brady, making a third bid for governor; state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose campaign has been upset over sexual harassment allegations; state Sen. Kirk Dillard, running second in public opinion polls; and billionaire front-runner Bruce Rauner. Dillard has sided with public sector unions on the pension issue.

Rauner, 58, who says he is "probably" in the top .01 percent of wealthiest Americans, has spent $15 million on the campaign, including $6 million of his own money. His primary home, one of nine, is in a Chicago suburb. He says his agenda is to face down the unions, cut government spending, and lower taxes. Rauner favors charter schools and bringing "business sense" to government.

"I'm a business guy. I'm not a politician," he said last week.

He has been described as "confident, brash and blunt," according to the Times.
Rauner's relationship with Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whom he met in the course of a business deal in 2001, has drawn attention.

Dillard has hammered away at Rauner's freewheeling campaign spending and his ties to Emanuel. "You can't beat Pat Quinn with a nominee who's so close to Democrats like Rahm Emanuel that they vacation together. You can't beat Pat Quinn with a nominee who dodges questions, who won't talk in the media, and who has incredibly questionable business dealings," said Dillard, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"We're going to sweep Pat Quinn into the dustbin of history," Rauner told an audience at a campaign stop in Decatur, the Tribune reported. "We've got to get him out of office."

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